Field one's path to first base looked pretty worn out. George DeCoux said it reminded him of how Southeastern Sports Management (SSM) wore out its welcome at the Gulfport Sportsplex. "I don't have a doubt in the world that we will be able to do better, make more money and do a better job," he said, "and also satisfy more of the local people, which has always been a contention."
DeCoux's staff maintains the three year old fields. When they opened, DeCoux brought in SSM specifically to market the Sportsplex complex, run its tournaments, and oversee its concession stands.
When SSM resigned last week, DeCoux's leisure services team stepped up to the plate. "We feel like we can create more tournaments without too much difficulty," said DeCoux. "And in essence, what you're doing is cutting out the middleman, you know."
Councilman Kim Savant said that from the day the sportsplex opened, he expected the city to eventually market it. "I think the biggest hire we will have will probably be somebody that has some relationship with the sports arena," Savant said, "so we can market the tournaments."
The Sportsplex tournament schedule usually runs from April through September. The rest of the time, local leagues practice and play on the fields. The leisure services plan is to contract with another marketing expert -- somebody who can sell advertising signs to hang on outfield fences, and make more money for Gulfport. "We will go out and do a contract to market the sign that you see out here, and to market this complex," DeCoux said.
Gulfport still has some legal issues pending against Southeastern Sports Management. The city claims SSM owes it $4,000, plus an annual accounting report from tournaments the past two years. A news release from SSM said the company has confidence Gulfport will be successful with its fields in the future.